Charles Bittinger (American, 1879-1970)
Bibliothèque du Dauphin, Versailles
Signed, inscribed, and dated "C Bittinger/Versailles 1906" l.l., titled on a presentation plaque.
Oil on canvas, 32 x 26 in. (81.5 x 65.7 cm),in a Newcomb-Macklin frame.
Condition: Minor paint losses along left edge, revarnished in July 2005 according to a note on the foam core backing.
Provenance: Property of the Saint Louis Art Museum, sold to benefit the Acquisition Fund.
Exhibitions: Panama Pacific International Exposition, 1915, Fine Arts Department, Item 2311, as The Library of the Prince: Versailles; possibly also exhibited at The Copley Society of Boston, date unknown.
N.B. The Panama-Pacific International Exposition world's fair was held in San Francisco February 20-December 4, 1915. Conceived to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal, it also provided the city the opportunity to showcase its recovery from the 1906 earthquake. Four paintings by Bittinger were included in the exhibition for the Department of Fine Arts, and he was awarded a Silver Medal. (1) A presentation plaque recording the Silver Medal is affixed to the back of the frame of this painting, suggesting this work was the actual medal winner, but the catalog of the exposition did not include a list of medals awarded for specific works. In the short biographical paragraph devoted to Bittinger it says only that he won a Silver Medal.
1.) J.E.D. Trask & J.N. Laurvik, Editors, Catalogue de Luxe of the Department of Fine Arts, Panama-Pacific International Exposition, Volume II (San Francisco: Paul Edler and Company, 1915) p. 290.
Framed dimensions are 38 5/8 x 32 5/8 x 1 5/8 in.
Frame stamped "NEWCOMB-MACKLIN CO./CHICAGO & NEW YORK" in two places on the reverse. Stretcher inscribed with the artist's name and his New York address and also with the title "Versailles." There is a fragmentary exhibition label affixed to the stretcher, but it has been effaced.
The painting is somewhat ill-fitted in the frame, the opening of which is just a tiny bit too large, and the painting is cushioned by thin foam strips along the top and two sides. The overall condition is good. The minor losses along the left side are not troublesome and could be covered if a filet were added to the frame. There is a tiny tear in the tacking edge as it overlaps the stretcher at the top edge at u.l. The stretcher surface is uneven at that point, causing the wear and the subsequent tear. When viewed from the back, the tacking edge at the top is more extensive than the other three sides, and the linen is not fully gessoed to the edge. There is a small tear to the linen tacking edge. There are some horizontal bands of staining to the reverse, probably the result of cleaning or varnishing, with the staining darker along the lower 1/4 of the canvas.
The painting was revarnished by the museum and there is a scribbled note as to the varnish used tucked behind the foam core backing.
Items may have wear and tear, imperfections, or the effects of aging. Any condition statement given, as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Skinner shall have no responsibility for any error or omission.